Calvin soccer prepares to face D-1 Notre Dame

The Knights will be excited to get back on the field together.

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The Knights will be excited to get back on the field together.

The University of Notre Dame’s men’s soccer schedule this spring is filled with familiar Atlantic Coast Conference opponents, like Virginia, North Carolina, and Wake Forest, with one notable exception—the Irish are scheduled to play Calvin at 7:00 p.m. on Mar. 16 in South Bend. 

The game is a rare opportunity for Calvin to square off against a Division 1 opponent and a Power 5 one at that. Notre Dame’s squad went 5-4 in its fall season and reached the semifinals of the ACC tournament. 

The game between Calvin and Notre Dame was supposed to take place in the fall, when both teams were trying to schedule games around pandemic guidelines, but plans fell through. Notre Dame chose to honor the game when the opportunity arose to play it in the spring, even when other Division 1 opponents were available, according to Calvin head coach Ryan Souders. 

The game will kick off Calvin’s spring season as the first official match that the Knights have  played in over a year. 

Senior forward Shay Smith described the team’s attitude as “eager” entering the game. 

“I would be lying if I said we weren’t intimidated or nervous at all, there will be some nerves leading up to the game, because frankly, on paper, this is one of the best teams a lot of us will ever face,” Smith said. “But we are mostly eager and excited to play because we know we have a chance to compete at a high level.” 

The match marks a significant point in Calvin’s program history, building off of significant momentum from trips to the NCAA tournament semifinals in four of the last five years, reaching the championship game in two of those seasons. 

“I think this is a huge credit to all of the Calvin Knights who played before this game happened,” Souders said. “They have presented themselves and this program as one that is high [character] and has earned this opportunity for the current group.”

Junior midfielder Coleman Ulry echoed this sentiment. “It means a lot because the guys who came before us competed at a level that enables us to play against quality opponents like Notre Dame, so this is an opportunity that we don’t want to squander,” Ulry said. 

Aside from giving his team the chance to play an organized match for the first time in 15 months, Souders hopes the game will allow Calvin to exhibit its usual winning mentality. 

“[We] want to win. Some may say that is naïve, and maybe it is, but we would be foolish to go out without desiring that,” Souders said. “It’s our intent to head down, represent our program, our school, and our families well, and work towards a positive result.”